Sunday, January 31, 2010

Video Friend

Burns, Ken, and Barnes, Paul. Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. PBS WETA. (No date given)

This beautifully researched and presented PBS 2 Part Special explores the lives of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who were 19th Century Visionaries working tirelessly and passionately to advance the causes of Women.

Their work began in the mid 1800s and continued through the end of the Century. While the U.S. was initially organized as a country based upon a "Declaration of Independence", whole sections of Society were excluded from that initial Declaration.

When their work began, Women did not have the right to vote, hold property, divorce, go to college, hold office, sit on juries from whom they may be tried. They were considered property of their Husbands. Should their marriages fail, they did not have right to their Children. While Elizabeth wrote and spoke more broadly on Women's Issues, Susan focused more specifically on getting Women the Right to Vote.

The film is about their work but also about their enduring and sometimes challenged Friendship which lasted over a half Century. Their personalities and life styles represented great contrasts. Susan was stark, plain, tall and slender, Quaker. She chose never to marry. Elizabeth was born to privilege, short and increasingly round, married and had 7 children. Elizabeth became the voice and Susan the legs.

We 3 C's continue to explore missing pieces of our understanding of History and the World around us. At the time Richard and I were in school in the 1950s and 1960s, Women's History was largely deemed unknown, unimportant, and therefore absent. With its focus on Men who were White, Battles, Wars, and Conquest, I remember how dreadful and dead I found history to be. I wonder if that was because I found no place in it and if it spoke a language I did not speak.

I feel deeply grateful I have had the privilege of association of several Women's Historians while at the University of North Dakota (Kathleen Brokke, Barb Handy Marchello, Anne Kelsch). They helped me begin to fill in some gaping holes in my understanding of History. They helped me to understand that Women's expression of History (and that of others dis-enfranchised from Power) is different. Reclaiming those Histories is about reclaiming part of myself. Reclaiming it is about coming into a fuller understanding and expression of being a World Citizen.

We 3 C's find that such explorations bring into our lives a fullness that is nourishing and satisfying. We yearn for more. In fact, it is our right and obligation to seek out more. It is not always comfortable, but that discomfort is about growth.

We checked this out of the Public Library. We shall be heading back to the Library to see what other treasures they may have in the stacks.

Basic Stats: Meat Birds

Melanie did some computations for us on the Cost of Chickens as Meat Birds for 2009. The Roosters were all White Plymouth Rocks purchased from a Hatchery in Southern Missouri. The total cost was $2.92/Pound. The total Meat available (either Frozen or Canned) was 167.5 Pounds.

That does not the full Costs. That Cost includes Food and Chicks. It does not include Electricity, Labor, Water, Treats and Snacks, Charcoal (for Processing), Straw (for Bedding), Housing and Fencing, Storage (Plastic and Jars) for Meat.

Nor does it include: the enjoyment of the Ladies in the Nursing Home (who got to see them straight from the Post Office and carried on many conversations later about raising Chickens), our Enjoyment in watching them grow, their Miracle Poop as replenishment for the Soil.

Melanie thinks our Costs this year were about double from last. That's because we went "Organic" in as much as was available. The Organic "Grower Food" was grown locally by an area Farmer who has been studying this for years. The Food included: Corn, Wheat, Soy, Oats, Buckwheat, Nutritional Balancer (a Multi-Vitamin), Fish Meal. The Roosters also got Sunflower Seeds which were not Organic.

We all agreed that the Birds had a considerably higher Vitality this year. The Taste was excellent. We attributed this to the change in Food. In 2008, we went with a conventional product available at a local Feed Store. It was not Organic. The difference was amazing.

I continue to be puzzled with the fact that doing the right thing costs more. Whose half-baked idea is that anyway? We get what we pay for. And the Consumer just passes on those costs to someone else (a Farmer and his/her Family/Community who grow Chemically/GMO). Now why would we ever want to do that?

Clearing Clutter

We cleared out Clutter.
We got rid of TV.
We headed out of the Material World.
We moved from the City
into Nature on this Little Farm.
We sought to simplify our Lives,
living Life with Intention.
We wanted to clear our Heads
and open our Hearts.
I won't say we have met all of those Goals.
But we have made progress,
and for that
we are
deeply Grateful.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Human Doings

When I was growing up, I remember that various Lessons of Life were given to us in the form of Story. One of my favorites was the Aesop's Fable "Tortoise and the Hare".

As I recall, the Hare made fun of the Slow Tortoise, at which point, the Tortoise challenged the Hare to a race. The Hare agreed. They took off. Predictably, the Hare ran ahead with all the vibrance of the Rabbits we see so often in these parts. He got so far ahead that he stopped for a Nap. While he slept, the Tortoise just kept plodding along. He overtook him and won the race. I remember my Childhood Glee when I learned the unlikely Tortoise had won the race.

I have done a bit of alteration on this story. It seems fitting for the space and time in which we live. And it gives me a bit of Wisdom, perhaps, and a much needed alteration in course for the future.

Reflecting back, I think I have been the Hare, probably all of my Life. I think all of us on Butterfly Hill Farm have been the Hare. We kept running and running. We did not stop. We have run for the past 4 years, with our move. We hit the ground running when we arrived in May 2007. We had so much that we wanted to accomplish, that we seldom took rests.

As a result, we (and especially me) were and are tired. Yes, we accomplished a lot, but a whole pile of "to do's" kept staring at us in the face.

So we decided to take January 2010 off. The Earth sleeps then too. That's the Natural Cycle of things.

As a result, we have a whole lot more energy going into February than we did just 1 short month ago. Creativity is starting to emerge. We may even be ready to start another Garden. We do plan to go slow into February and March, to keep on replenishing Energy. The most significant lesson is that we need to build this in for the long haul.

I do not think our situation is unique. I think that Western Culture is a Culture which bases value on "doing" and "producing". We have switched from being "Human Beings" to becoming "Human Doings". As a result, we have a lot of people who are just running, running, running. Many are tired to the point of exhaustion. Seeking to jump start "energy", people drink Caffeine in Coffee, Tea or Soda. They drink and eat High Energy Foods. I cannot even imagine what our Adrenals, which are supposed to last us for a lifetime, must look like.

That addiction to "doing" is not the Natural Cycle of things. I see us as finite packages of Energy. We were given a lifetime of Energy at Birth. If we choose to use it all up quickly, we will not have much to carry ourselves forward for the long haul. With addiction to "doing", we get grumpy, we lose our sense of play and wonder, we diminish our potential for creativity. Who knows what untold damage on our bodies that we wreak?

As I think about this, we need to save that Hare energy for when we need it. We need to plod along with that Tortoise's Energy of going a little more slowly at times. We need to build in Play. As a result, our creativity and sense of wonder will be stronger. The likelihood of fulfilling our potential will be increased.

This lesson has come to me before. And it will likely come to me again. I get it now.

Carrying Forward

January 26:

This little gathering of Treasures helps me remember that many things of critical importance to the Act of Living are passed down between Generations.

Richard's Mother Ethel May Kirkpatrick Crawford created the little Quilt when she was 6 or 7 years old. As the story goes, she sat at the Feet of her Mother while her Mother was sewing at the Treadle Sewing Machine. I can almost hear its rhythmic sound. Her Mother Edna Bell Collier Kirkpatrick would pass down scraps of fabric which little Ethel May would sew into her own Quilt.

Ethel sewed beautiful Quilts throughout her Life. This is known to be her 1st and it was at her Mother's knee.

The Glasses are believed to be those of my Great Grandmother Matilda Waibel Brenz. For sure, they are from the Brenz side. They have 1 ear piece missing, but it does not matter to me.

My Mother has often talked about the many talents of her Grandmother. She has often talked of the many precious trips that she made there as a young Child often on a Sunday with her Father Fred Albert Brenz.

When I think of those visits, I wonder how many precious teachings the Elder passed onto the Granddaughter. I also wonder what of those have come (or should come) down to me.

I purchased the Oak Table from my "art money". The table came from a 2nd hand store in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in the early 1980s. We were told at the time that the table was about 100 years old. As near as could be told, it was believed to have been the Dining Room Table of 1 Family. That Family had 10 who sat around it. I can imagine they needed to use most of the 4 somewhat matched leaves. Again, I wonder about the teachings shared over the Table.

I like to have in our Home older things that remind us of earlier Generations. They are "odds and ends". Some Folks who frequent those upscale trendy furnishings places might call them "junk". Mostly, I do not care if they are tattered and worn. The wearing of Human Touch and Story makes them more of a Treasure to me.

We 3 C's surely do invite into our Lives essential teachings from earlier Generations that are about Life and Skills of Living. These humble Treasures are a visible sign of that invitation. In these modern times with our Culture's obsession toward "new" and "improved", those Treasures about Living which have withstood the test of time should never be dropped. It is our role to carry them forward.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Movie Friend

Secret Life of Bees. 2008.

This Film is based on the 2002 Historical Novel by Sue Monk Kidd. With MLK Day, we had been reading and talking about the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and 1960s. Quite by accident, we chose to see this Film and it fit right in. Are there ever really any accidents?

Movie Friend

Sweet Land. 2005.

Sweet Land is an excellent Film which focuses on the experience of 2 Immigrants to the U.S. in the early part of the 20th Century. He was from Norway and she was from Germany. This Film gives an excellent notion of what it must have been like for Immigrants to meet face to face with a Culture which, rather than accept the beauty of their difference, gave them little choice but to change.

On the Subject of Trees

Melanie said that we should be sure to post some notes about what we have learned about the planting of Trees. When we arrived, we were gung ho to plant Trees. Richard has planted a considerable number of Indigenous Varieties from the Missouri Department of Conservation around the property. That seemed relatively easier.

Our House sits off by itself with little protection of Trees. From the Get Go, we could see clearly that Trees as shelter and protection for the House are definitely needed. The Drive almost serves as a "funnel" so the Wind can blow down through here almost as a gale. Plus, we had and still have designs for an Orchard. We have made some good progress on the latter, but have had challenges. Soil close to the House seems on the order of "construction fill". It's a poor start for Trees.

We found it easy to go full throttle on Trees. They take a while to grow and they are long lasting. In moving to the Farm, Richard and I were turning 60; it seems one experiences a kind of unspoken urgency as they decades go on.

Plus, I have distinct memories of the House where I grew up. When we moved in 1951, that New Brick House stood proudly all by itself. In the Summer, it was hotter than a Biscuit. In the Winter, those outside walls were as cold as a refrigerator.

My Mother and Father planted Trees over the Decades. The House now sits in a lovely sanctuary of Shelter. It is cool in the Summer even with minimal use of Air Conditioning. I never would have believed that was possible. The House is comfortable in the Winter. But those Trees also present some challenges with Leaves, Seeds, Sticks. Homeowners have a lot to ponder in our choices.

We should plant Trees right away. Right? But wait, is there more?

When we moved in to our Little House here on Butterfly Hill Farm, we didn't really know all that we needed to. We probably never will. But we knew far less then than we do now. Looking back over these 1st almost 3 years, it is a good idea to live on a property for 2-3 years to study the place, see what it needs, and seek out options that will likely work. Some Questions have emerged:

What are the Wind and Sun Patterns across the Seasons? What kind of Soil is present? Does the Soil need amendments? What Trees will do best by Soil Type, Shelter, Hardiness Zone? What Indigenous varieties will do best?

Diversity is always good in Nature. People in our Culture tend to plant mostly the "same". If a challenge comes along, they'll lose it all. We got over that approach a long time ago.

We are currently watching some of the Pines in our area as they become susceptible to disease and die. That is not a pretty sight. We know that Emerald Ash Borer is likely to become an issue. While we love Ashes, we are not likely to plant them here.

I won't say that we have our plan completely in place even yet. But we are getting closer. And that feels good. A little patience has rewards.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Book Friend

Jeavons, John (2002). How to Grow More Vegetables: than You ever Thought Possible on Less Land than You Can Imagine. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

Dating back to its beginning in 1972, methods in this manual have withstood a test of time. Chapters include: bed preparation, sustainability, compost, fertilization, seed propagation, making the garden plan, companion planting, a balanced natural backyard ecosystem and insect life. Bibliography is extensive.

I think over time this biodynamic primer is going to become a good and close friend. Admittedly, I do not have the time or energy to focus on every detail at the present moment. But I keep dipping in and out. The section on Seed Propagation is calling me in as I will begin to plant seeds in flats in the next week. The manual includes a recipe for "flat soil" which is what I used last year. Yes, I can do this myself, without the aid of purchased products!,+John+%282002%29.++How+to+Grow+More+Vegetables:+than+You+ever+Thought+Possible+on+Less+Land+than+You+Can+Imagine.+Berkeley,+CA:++Ten+Speed+Press.&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=kLxfS-qFL-bBtwfbrIDqBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=Jeavons%2C%20John%20%282002%29.%20%20How%20to%20Grow%20More%20Vegetables%3A%20than%20You%20ever%20Thought%20Possible%20on%20Less%20Land%20than%20You%20Can%20Imagine.%20Berkeley%2C%20CA%3A%20%20Ten%20Speed%20Press.&f=false

Hibernating Is Lovely

January 21:

We have had several Gray, Low Light Days. The Temperature has been hovering at, below and above Freezing. We've even had Dense Fog. The Skies seem to commune closely with the Earth. We've had Rain and Freezing Rain. Ice has covered most surfaces. Town has seemed farther away. Thunder and Lightning danced about yesterday morning, perhaps just to tease us with their Power.

A Fire on the Hearth soothes and comforts. Most of us (the Pets included) tend to move in and out taking turns of being close to the Wood Stove. Soup and Homemade Breads are standard fare. Naps are good. Hibernating is lovely.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Matching Demand and Supply

When we moved to this Little Farm, our Noble and perhaps somewhat Naive Intention was to grow as much of our own Food as possible. That intention has stayed paramount in our thinking and planning. Yet, we really did not know what that all meant as we had never done it before.

We will be entering our 4th Gardening Season this year as we begin planting Seeds in Flats next week. Of course, we never completely know the variables that Mother Nature will hand us ahead. Mostly Gardening is an act of Hope and Faith.

What brought this issue of matching Demand with Supply acutely into our awareness is that we are now face to face with our last Onion. We love Onions.

Richard planted 400 last Spring. They were Onion Plants and Sets. I am still not quite sure what the difference is. Maybe this year, I will get it. We also planted Seeds in the Garden. They didn't "make".

In the Spring and Early Summer, the Onions that he planted from Plants and Sets looked beautiful. They were a work of Art. We used many of them as Green Onions. He then harvested the Bulbs for Fall and Winter Use in July. They hardened off in the Shed and then made their way downstairs. We would have run out far earlier, but the Leeks saved us.

We planted a lot of Leeks. This was new to us. They were amazingly successful. I still remember planting those little Plants in the Soil last Spring; I had no clue as to what we would get. But, we thoroughly enjoyed them and they did extend our Onion Season.

We have also planted Winter Onions from Kitty. I planted them late and they are not ready to harvest. We know very little about them. It will not be long before we can harvest Wild Chives, but they will be little more than a Taste and a suggestion of Green and Spring. Those things are important but they will hardly do the trick.

We know that sometime soon we will begin to buy Onions for Culinary Pursuits. That will be done with reluctance. Our plan is to purchase Organic of course. But all of that raises a question.

How many Onions do we need to plant to cover a year of use? We are planning to start some from Seed next week.

I chuckle about all of this. Here we are the "Educated Ones" who went off to Town and, for decades, bought most of our Food at the Store. After a good many years in that practice, we are now seeking to grow most of our own Food.

The Grandmas did that. But it was different for them. For 1 thing, they had to. We have the back up of the Grocery Store. But also, they learned from the Generations before and they learned with every experience when their hands came in contact with Seeds and Soil. They carried on that tradition every Gardening Season of their Lives, until of course, they got Older and couldn't quite manage it the way that they did before.

I think the Old Ones would tell us to go a little slower. We can't do it all at once. We probably need to be a little more reasonable about some of these things.

Richard's Mother would not understand our drive to grow and use Onions. But my Croatian Grandma Dora would say that's a great place to start.

600 seems like a good number for the year.

Looking Ahead

January has been designated as our time of much needed rest. We 3 C's (and especially me) are somewhat in denial that another Gardening Season may be right around the corner. We even wondered whimsically if we delayed putting away the Christmas decorations, maybe we would have more time to rest before Spring. But alas, the Wheel of the Seasons and of Life Itself continue to turn. We Humans are not in charge.

Seeds have arrived from 3 Companies of the 5 from which we ordered. Next week, we begin planting the Seeds that need the longest time before planting in the Garden. How can that be? That means that the Shelves should be put up too.

This week, I need to get serious about Potting Soil. I do not want to order or buy a Commercial Mix. I wonder what the Old Timers did. We Creatures of the early 21st Century seem addicted to all the Advertised Wares in the Seller's Bins. Worse, yet we seem helpless sometimes in finding our way through some things that should be pretty simple.

We are trying to turn some of that around. Potting Soil seems a good place to start, but we depend on those Plants for Food.

A Mix

After the Fog,
Warming Temperatures,
and Hail
of the last few days,
the Sun came out on Sunday.
It was so beautiful.
We were gleeful.
We hardly recognized
that Golden Ball and soft Blue in the Sky.
We walked the Loop
on that soft Wet Ground.
The Winds came
and the Clouds raced.
Temperatures plummeted.
Horizontal Snow returned.
Mike brought
a Truckload of Wood
for the Wood Stove.
That should take care
of us for the year.
The Chickens stayed inside.
Mostly the Humans
and the 4 Leggeds
did too,
except for Chores
and Richard's walk.
Sounds have changed.
The Wind roars outside
while we are snug inside.
Snow crunches under feet.
That reminds me
of North Dakota.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Book Friend

Pollan, Michael. (2008). In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. New York: Penguin Press.

Richard picked this up at a local bookstore on Thursday. We 3 are drawn to it like a magnet. Every time 1 of us sets it down, another picks it up. This is an excellent read. We each read, then we pause, share and discuss.

Pollan makes the hidden become visible in this straightforward text, offering choices for a different path. He adds his own ample doses of humor and whimsy. The work affirms issues that so many of us have felt regarding nutrition, food, and the food industry.

We 3 C's have been reading and researching these issues for years. It is the basis for our move to this little Farm and toward growing our own food, preparing it, and buying local. Pollan puts it all together in a very pallatable text.

This book make recommendations for food choices in a no nonsense sort of way with underpinnings of science and common sense. For me, the long and the short of it is that we should be eating in the ways that many of the Grandmas taught us those many years ago.

Cookbook Friend

Katzen, Mollie. The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

This is 1 of our cookbook standards. The cookbook features vegetarian recipes written step by step. I love the handwritten entries with beautiful line drawings. We have used this cookbook for years. It is a springboard to our own recipe designs.

Friday, January 22, 2010

News from Chicken-Ville

So what do the Chickens do on a cold Winter's Day? Yesterday, Freddie the Rooster and a collection of Hennies followed Melanie to the Garden. Melanie had a Camera in hand. Those Chickens scratched and scratched, finding all kinds of good stuff to eat and leaving Miracle Poop behind.

While in the Garden, Freddie watched out for the Hennies. His 1st priority seems to be those Hennies, wherever they are.

Freddie would want us to know that the Flock has experienced some decided improvements. We now have 2 Roosters rather than 4. The 2nd Rooster, who has no Name yet, is pretty shy. He is more People Shy than Chicken Shy. Since he is 1 of Lacey's Littles, he wasn't raised with much Human contact. Wherever People are, he will vacate the area, sometimes very quickly. Overall, the Chicken Yard is quieter. The 2 Roosters are not fighting, thankfully.

The following Photo is of Penny. If you have followed Penny's Story, you may notice that this Photo shows a decided change in her appearance. Glinda calls her our Pri-Mordial Chicken; she looked almost Dinosaur-like since she was missing back feathers.

Ms. Penny wore a specially designed Chicken Cape which Melanie made from Denim to keep her a little warmer. She probably wore this for a year. She molted this Fall and is now sporting the most beautiful Back Feathers you can imagine. We praise her profusely.

She still is short on Tail Feathers. Melanie thinks she is pulling them out. At any rate, she is probably a lot warmer this year and mighty pretty. She may have been short on Feathers, but she has not been short on Personality. She loves to talk. That's how she got her name.
Out in the Garden, the Chickens are scratching, scratching, and more scratching. And pooping. Melanie calls them Nature's Tillers.
That Golden Brown Chicken in the middle is a Buff Orpington. Her name is Tawny and she likes to get messy. Melanie thinks she probably got wet from being out in the Tall Grasses.
Melanie says the following photo is of Penny (the tail-less wonder), a Black Australorp, and Hazel (looking at the camera). Hazel does not like to have her picture taken. In fact, she left right after this photo. Some People are like that too.
The same Chickens are doing a very famous Garden Dance, known as the Chicken Scratch. Hazel is actually leaving about now.
Like some Humans, Sophia will pose for the Camera. She is a lovely Barred Rock. She has just finished her Molt so she has all new Feathers. Isn't she just ever so pretty?
Penny says "Hi!"
Some Chickens chose not to leave the Coop. Brownie, who is 1 of the Matriarchs, would tell us that it's warmer and less messy there. Our Fine Feathered Friends are not so exposed to the elements when they stay in the Coop. The Humans leave Food and Water there. Those Chickens would tell us that they have all they need.
Poulay wonders if Melanie brought Snacks.
Lacey, Sally, and Lula are scratching and looking for Food.
Lacey prepares to leave, while Andee joins her Sisters. Melanie says that Andee is short for Andromeda. Brownie stands at the Door.
Brownie does not like to have her picture taken. That's why she is leaving. Meanwhile Poulay greets us at the door to the Chicken House. These Ladies are from our oldest Flock of Chickens. That means they will be 3 years old in June.
Poulay pauses for a profile shot.
Sally is also a Buff Orpington, but she is very light in color. Melanie says Sally was talking acting like she very much needed to lay an Egg.
Kayte is in a nest box. She is either laying an Egg or she already has. Melanie says we are getting about 12-16 Eggs a Day. She and her Dad say that 16 is about average. The light is still on some nights, but we do try to keep it at a minimum.
Chloe Jean Chicken looks all perky here. Melanie and I think that if she has a favorite Human, it would be Richard. She is very People Friendly. In our reading of characteristics of Barred Rocks, we noted they were "kid friendly". We are big Kids and we would agree.
Penny walks in from her excursion in the Garden. She is watching Sally find a Nest Box.

Sally found a nest box. She is turning around to make sure that her Nest Box is all neat and tidy and ready for an Egg.
This is Lacey's Littlest. She has no name yet. At just 6 months, she has begun to lay Eggs. She is really Shy. She was not thrilled in the slightest to have her picture takent. She seems to get along with the rest of the flock. She is lower on the pecking order, but she seems to be integrating well. So, there you have it. This wraps up the Chicken News from Chicken-Ville. Our 40 Chickens are happy and healthy. They just seem to go with the flow of whatever the day brings. They are very willing and able partners on our Farm.

Not a Good Idea

Humans seem enchanted
with their own inventions.
They seem fixated
on Straight Lines,
Sharp Corners,
huge Blocks of the Same,
forcing a Human Agenda.
They forget
Nature is Master Crafter,
with an Eye for
When we Humans construct things
outside Nature's Design,
we risk
putting ourselves
outside Nature too.
That's not a good idea.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ice Artistry

Melanie took these pictures of Ice Artistry. I took a few too. Once again, that Master Artist/Sculptor has been at work. It is hard for we lowly Humans to take any credit for these Pics, which are mostly around the House and Garden.

That little Blue Bird House in the Garden held and launched Families of Tree Swallows and Wrens last Summer. The Parents and later the Young gathered tasty treats from the Garden. We Humans liked that. I wonder where those Birds are now. And I wonder who are new feathered Neighbors will be this next Spring and Summer.

I love the way the Ice coats those things made by Humans. Somehow, most of the things made by Humans these days seem outside the realm of Nature. When Nature adds an embellishment of Ice, those contrived Human projects almost seem like something else.

The Chicken Wire looks like Fabric netting. It reminds me of the billowy Wedding Veil I wore in 1966, or those Crinoline Skirts that bounced when I wore them as a growing girl in the 50s and 60s. As the Temperature was rising, the Ice fell soon after the picture was taken.This is the Rainbow Gate in the Garden. The Blue Bird House sits on top.Melanie asked me to look at this picture again. With the Melt, the Ice is beginning to slide down the Wire. All during this Photo Shoot and after wards, the Ice was tumbling down everywhere. It sounded like the tinkling of Wind Chimes all around.I love this Shelf Mushroom. As they are often in stair step form, I envision Fairies climbing through the Trees. With all the Ice, I hope they are careful. But rather, I suppose they enjoyed slipping and sliding about.Every Needle of the White Pines seemed to be covered. The Boughs hang low.The Clothesline featured Icicles carefully hung with invisible Clothes Pins.I loved this Scene. The Clothesline was covered with Ice and Icicles. I loved the straight lines in contrast the Natural Lines of the Clothesline Poles which were made from Osage Orange. In the background on the left, the Austree is bent with the weight of the Ice. Fortunately, we had little Wind and the Melt was relatively quick. The White Pines along the Drive were bent down in what looked like lovely Ball Gowns at some lovely and graceful unseen Ball.
We did not walk down into the Woods. With all the Ice Falling and Limbs too, it didn't seem like the best idea. We Humans seem to be slow Learners sometimes, but we do learn.

Seeds Begin to Arrive

On this Glorious Day, our Letter Carrier Tom placed in our Mailbox the 1st of our Seeds which have begun to arrive. We just ordered on Monday and that was only 3 Days ago. The 1st Batch came in that Yellow Padded Envelope carefully packed from Baker Creek.

Mother said that when she was growing up, ordering and getting Seeds was like Christmas. Her Dad headed up the show. I think she is right; ordering and getting Seeds is a lot like Christmas.

I have been reluctant to swing exuberantly into Gardening Season 2010. But on this Day, I think I could do that too, only sometime in the future.

We Gather Rainwater

The Indoor Plants absolutely love Rainwater. They are really smart. They know right away that City Water is not Rainwater. They seem to go on "Slow Down" or "On Strike" if they are served up City Water. So to keep Peace among all Beings in the Household (which is important), we are always on the lookout for Rainwater.

Gathering Rainwater in the Winter is possible but it takes some extra thought. Whenever we have Ice or Snow, we smile with that luscious Cover accumulating on the Roof. And we wait patiently for those moments when that Beautiful Thaw begins.

Richard heads outside with those Beautiful Green 5 Gallon Pickle Buckets, and we stock up on Rainwater. At any given time after our Harvest of Water, you might find up to 7-5 Gallon Buckets Full of Water in the House. Our Indoor Plants are positively Gleeful. They seem to be jumping for Joy.

So when we had that Ice this week and it showed signs of melting, we were gathering up Buckets and keeping an ear open for that lovely sound of water running down the Downspout. Life on the Farm seems to focus on the Beauty and Wonder of Simple Things.

Seeds Are Ordered

January 18:

Richard and Melanie took care of Seed Orders today. Richard sent in orders electronically to Shumway's, Seeds of Change, and Gurneys. Melanie called in orders to Seed Savers Exchange and Baker Creek. She likes to talk to a real person.

The Bulk of the Seed Orders were for Seed Savers and Baker Creek. Both specialize in Heirloom Seeds. Between the 3 of us, we like each of the 5 catalogues for different reasons.

This year, we ordered a little later than the past 2 years. I think we are in denial that another growing season is right around the corner, especially because of the lateness of the last Harvest.

We ordered less over all because we are able to save our own Seeds. That's what the Old Timers did. We have a lot to learn in that area, but it feels good.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Last Greens

We ate the last of the Greens today. They would have been picked in early December. Melanie and I are thinking that Greens may be becoming one of our favorite veggies.

In Melanie's Book Stash

Melanie has quite a collection of books which are mostly from her days of teaching 5th grade. While most of our books are still packed, she pulled out her books that would be in the spirit of Martin Luther King Day. Here are just a few. The 1st 6 are children's books and also appropriate for adults. The last listed is for adults.

Brandt, Keith. (1993). Rosa Parks: Fight for Freedom. Troll Associates.
Bridges, Ruby. (1999). Through her Eyes. New York: Scholastic Inc.
Hamilton, Virginia. (1985). The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales. New York: Scholastic Inc.
King, Dr. Martin Luther. (No Date). I Have a Dream. New York: Scholastic Inc.
Levine, Ellen. (1990). ...If You Lived at the Time of Martin Luther King. New York: Scholastic Inc.
Sabin, Francene. (1985). Harriet Tubman. Mahwah, NJ: Troll Associates.
Holmes, Robert L., and Gan, Barry L. (2005). Nonviolence in Theory and Practice. 2nd Edition. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

Reflections on MLK Day

Today is Martin Luther King Day. I wanted to do something special, but I was not sure what. Over the last few days, we have been reading, reflecting, and interacting on the meaning of Race and Gender to us. That has felt very good.

For a long time, I wanted to write about experiences that I have had over my Life which have significantly shaped how I feel about Race and Gender. I do believe that would be a book all unto itself. I would write to "note" but I would also write to "learn". That work in my Life is "unfinished" and "evolving". Here are some notes:

1950s-1960s: I grew up during the 50s and 60s when the Civil Rights Movement was gathering steam and in high gear. I grew up in a little town of about 12,000 in Northeast Missouri. The town was almost all White. I only remember 1 or 2 Negro Families (which is what those of African descent were called then). Those Families were largely invisible to me. I do not remember their names nor do I remember where they lived. I do remember that our town had had a Negro School ("Lincoln School"). I have a general impression of where it was, but I had no idea when it was in operation.

In Sunday School, I loved the song "Jesus loves the little Children, all the Children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little Children of the world." The message was clear to me as a Child. Jesus loved the little Children. I just got confused with the message and practice of Big People who were Adults.

Throughout my Elementary and Secondary Schooling, I learned History that was almost exclusively White and Male. We studied Dead White Males who were either from the U.S. or Europe. This was the History of the Conquerors, written by the Conquerors. We heard virtually nothing from the other side. For the most part, we did not hear about the History of other Races, of other Continents, or of Women. It was as if they were not there. If they were, they did not matter.

This approach to History left me ignorant of others with whom I shared the world. It left me largely with a deep seed of unknown fear of those who were different.

As if that was not enough, we saw images in the Newspaper and on our Television which sat proudly in our Living Room of the growing tensions in Race Relations between Whites and Negroes. I remember the Violence and the graphic images. We heard little of the real news behind those graphic images.

In the late 1950s and in 1960, I puzzled over the fact that these News Stories often centered around Schools. I was in the last years of Elementary School. I was now 1 of the big Kids, in 4th through 6th Grade and later, in 1960, in 7th which was at the Junior High. I dearly loved my red brick Washington School and I loved Learning. I could not imagine a situation where Children of any Color or Station would be denied School. I could not imagine how the Situation could be so bad that Violence would erupt around Children going to School. When I came and went, I looked around the perimeter of my School. It was quiet, which was dramatically unlike the Schools on the News.

All this information was filtered through my Father who feared Negroes were going to take over. It has taken me many years to understand that his Ethnic Heritage of Centuries of Oppression was one of constant take overs. He viewed what he saw with the Scripts that he brought. I do not believe that his take was unusual.

As a Child and Adolescent, I was scared. I did not know what or who to believe. But, my Life did not markedly change. My quiet little Town, my experiences of education and separation of the Races stayed largely the same.

As time passed, I was left with some memorable images pointing to a new time where a different future was possible. I remember seeing the throngs assembled to hear Martin Luther King in Washington, D.C. "I have a Dream." I remember the Cadence of his remarkable Voice. I remember hearing the song "We Shall Overcome", which I dearly loved. Something was changing. The tides were shifting. That time was a watershed of a new era emerging, an era I longed to be a part.

1969: By this time, I was a young Adult and as they say in these parts, "still wet behind the Ears". I was 20, almost 21. I had been married 2 1/2 years to my high school sweetheart. I was ready to graduate from College and I was soon to become a teacher.

My Father and Mother invited Richard and me to join them and my Brother on a Family Camping Vacation to Florida. None of us had been there. Richard was facing the Draft. Viet Nam was raging. He was also soon to graduate with his Master's. We leaped at the chance.

Richard and I went ahead and my Family was soon to follow. We passed close to sites which had been burned in my memory. Selma, Alabama, was one. I was stunned at how little I knew of what went on there. I was supposedly an educated person. Education was supposed to make a difference.

In the deep South, I developed an Ear Infection. I rarely had them but when I did, they were excruciatingly painful, grinding my Life to a halt and bringing me to my knees. A Doctor I did not know prescribed the needed Medication. Mother and I quickly headed to a Pharmacy so my Family and I could be on our way.

A line of a dozen or more people stood in front of me. They were all Black. They were frail and Elderly. I thought nothing of it. I just wanted my Meds. The Pharmacist looked back at me and motioned that I was next, as if he saw none of those Frail Elderly Black People in front of me. They quietly separated to the right and to the left to let me go to the head of the line. It was as if Moses had just arrived to part the Black Sea. I was stunned. But I was not speechless.

I looked back at that Pharmacist who must also have been an educated person and I said: "They were here before me. Wait on them 1st." Once again, the line came back together. When my turn came, we got my Meds and we were on our way. I just had an experience that I would chew on for a Life Time.

1970: Richard was now in the service. He did not go to Viet Nam. Instead, he worked at an Army Psychiatric Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, tending the invisibly wounded. I was able to be with him.

I packaged up my Teaching Credential and by this time 1 year of Teaching Experience. I headed to the San Antonio Independent School District Office where I was going to fill out an application and have an interview. I was dressed in my best. The shoes were tight. My professional dress was not adapted to flexibility or heat.

Upon arrival, I did interview. The Personnel Officer said I did well on my interview but there were no Home Economics Positions available. He sent me back outside his office to complete the paperwork.

In the meantime, a Black Woman came in to interview also. She too was newly arrived in San Antonio. Her husband was based at the same base. She lived generally on my way home and had ridden on many buses to get to her interview. We had that lively chat that often happens when people in unfamiliar spaces find another with whom they have an instant connection. I felt comfortable and asked if I could take her home. It was on the way.

A few minutes later, the same Personnel Director called me back. He noted they were impressed with my interaction. Sure enough, a position was open. I was stunned that something "normal" could be so outside the lines. That little interaction got me a job.

Early 1970s: Richard was now out of the Army and we both were in Graduate School at Iowa State University. For the 1st time in my life, I had the privilege of having African Americans (and Africans) as Peers.

I volunteered to help a fellow graduate student and her husband move. Upon my arrival, I was the only White Person among 8 or so others. My Color made me stand out. But also, I discovered that I did not speak the language of those who were gathered to help. At all other times in the hallowed halls of academia, my Friend had spoken the language of those who were educated and on the ladder up.

In our shared time during those years, this Friend shared a story with me. She was about the same age as me, maybe a couple of years older. In Kindergarten, she was the 1st Black Person to be integrated into an All White Urban School. Those news clips which had been burnt into my memory in the late 50s and early 60s were not being filled in with a name and a face of someone I held dear. This was real. This hurt.

Early 1980s: I had a national meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Since the meeting focused on youth, space was given for youth and adults to experience the history and culture of the area. I chose to go on a Gray Line "Black Tour of Atlanta". I asked my Friends to join me, but none of them did.

The Bus was late to pick me up at my ritzy Hotel. That dinosaur like Bus was Old and Cavernous. It surely must have been a vintage Bus on some Film Studios Inventory. When all of the Passengers were on board, I stood out like a sore thumb.

I was the only White Person on the Bus. While the Bus was not full, the Families seemed like they were on Pilgrimage. It was just over a decade since Martin Luther King had been shot and killed. By contrast, I was not on Pilgrimage, or perhaps I was. I just did not know it. I was curious. I wanted to learn.

The Bus Driver was Black. Instead of having a Tour Guide in a Perky Uniform Dress also on board, he was Driver and Tour Guide. He drove those filled and busy City Streets with the Steering Wheel between his Strong Hands and the Microphone stuck in front of his face.

I remember he commented with great volume, enthusiasm, and pointedness: "What happened in this spot affected the lives of every Person on this Bus. Except one." That one was me. Other passengers were kind but distant and focused.

Among other stops, we visited the Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King preached. We stopped at the Martin Luther King Library, Gift Shop, and Grave Site. People trooped vigorously off the Bus. I planned to buy something, but I could find nothing I wanted to buy. Others returned with bags and bags stuffed with souveneirs. Once again, I was different. I stood out.

1990: I was on developmental leave as a visiting faculty member to the Ohio State University. I timed my return to campus after the Christmas Holiday, arriving on a Monday in mid January. I got all dressed up in my Christian Dior Suit with my gray heels and cream hose. I had 2 stops to make on my way to campus: the Bank and the Post Office. Both were closed. What was going on?
I arrived on Campus. To my surprise, Campus was quiet. Campus was never quiet. I could park right next to the building where I was assigned. I could never park next to my building

It was Martin Luther King Day. I returned to my Apartment with a newspaper. North Dakota was 1 of only 4 states which had chosen not to ratify this as a holiday. Once again, I knew I had more to learn.

Early 1990s: I was back at the University of North Dakota meeting classes and students. I asked 1 group of students what they were going to do for Martin Luther King Day weekend. I was tired, my plate was full. I had looked forward to a bit of rest and some catching up. Then 4 of my studnets stopped me in my tracks. Who was the teacher there? These sorority sisters were checking out videos on African Americans. They were headed to a lake in the deep snows of the Minnesota North Woods. They were choosing this Holiday to learn. Ever since, I have chosen this Holiday and other days inbetween to learn.

Seed Orders Planned

Tonight, we held a Family Conference right here in front of the warmth of the Wood Stove on Butterfly Hill Farm. After we each did our homework, we reviewed all the Seeds we plan to order.

Melanie and Richard will work on ordering tomorrow. I note that our ordering occurred January 14, 2008, and January 15, 2009. We are right on schedule.

Between the 3 of us, we each seem to take the lead on different things in the Garden. That permits us to fan out and develop complementary knowledge which supports the whole Garden. Without the Teamwork which has developed, we would not have been able to done so many things.

For me, my focus is on Cabbages, Beets, 3 Sisters Gardens (Indian Corn, Beans, Squash), Leeks, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes. I can't forget to name the Dry Edible Beans, of which I grew 20 varieties this past year. I will grow more this year. I love my Dry Edible Beans.

Melanie takes the lead on all things Weird and Wacky. (She didn't think I would write that.) Seriously, she is focused on Greens, Peanuts, Lettuces, other Brassicas, Okra, Celery and Celeriac, Edamame, Medicinal Herbs, Edible Flowers, Radishes, Parsnips and Rutabagas, Flowers, Eggplant, Job's Tears, Funky Colored Things (like Carrots, Beans, Radishes), Tomatillos. She tends to shy away from plants that come with Bugs.

She and her Dad both focus on Tomatoes and Peppers. We all do Garlic and Culinary Herbs.

Richard does Potatoes, Corn, Peas, Carrots, Green Beans, Onions, Sorghum Cane, Field Corn, Melons, Squash, Cucumbers. Most of what he does is for canning or preserving, except the Cucumbers.

This is our 4th year to order for the Farm. The 1st 3 years took a huge amount of time. That's because we were going head to head against the Unknown. That may be a kinder way of saying that in a lot of matters, we didn't exactly know what we were doing.

These days, more is known. We still have a lot to learn. But things are going quicker and more smoothly. For that and so many other things, we are deeply grateful.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I looked at my hands,
to see if I was the same person now that I was free.
There was such a glory over everything;
the sun came like gold through the trees,
and over de fields,
and I felt like I was in heaven.
Harriet Tubman


I freed a thousand slaves.
I could have freed a thousand more
if only they knew they were slaves.
Harriet Tubman


Every great dream begins with a dreamer.
Always remember,
you have within you
the strength, the patience, and the passion
to reach for the stars
to change the world.
Harriet Tubman


For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains,
but to live in a way
that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
Nelson Mandela


After climbing a great hill,
one only finds
that there are many more hills to climb.
Nelson Mandela
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~, 1/16/10


A good head and a good heart
are always a formidable combination.
Nelson Mandela


Do your little bit of good where you are;
its those little bits of good put together
that overwhelm the world.
Desmond Tutu
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~, 1/16/10


It's the little things citizens do.
That's what will make the difference.
My little thing is planting trees.
Wangari Maathai,
2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner,
Founder of the Green Belt Movement


While I know myself
as a creation of God,
I am also obligated to realize
and remember
that everyone else
and everything else
are also God's creation.
Maya Angelou


Love recognizes
no barriers.
It jumps hurdles,
leaps fences,
penetrates walls
to arrive
at its destination
full of hope.
Maya Angelou


Like an unchecked cancer,
hate corrodes the personality
and eats away its vital unity.
Hate destroys a man's sense of values
and his objectivity.
It causes him
to describe the beautiful as ugly
and the ugly as beautiful,
and to confuse the true
with the false
and the false with the true.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength To Love, 1963.
Source: 1/16/10


We must combine
the toughness of the serpent
and the softness of the dove,
a tough mind
and a tender heart.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963.
Source: 1/16/10

Thursday, January 14, 2010

January Rest

We have been very ambitious here on our Little Farm after not quite 3 years. And, we are happy to report, we have been very successful in so many areas. We have had areas where we have not been successful. But we are ever learning.

I admit that we have wanted to get things done and now. Even Mother has commented: "I just don't see how you have gotten all of this done."

I am reminded of the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. I think we have been Wild Hares these last 3 years. We have looked forward to this for so long and now we are living the reality. It is very easy to "fast forward ahead" without facing the reality we need to take care of ourselves too.

After becoming more fully aware of how tired we were, we decided to take January off. While we still have had chores and routine responsibilities to attend to, we have "taken it easy". That was a great plan. Naps are good. Rest is essential.

Nature takes a rest in the Winter. January Rest (and likely more) is exactly what we have needed. With that rest, the Batteries are beginning to get recharged and even more creative ideas are beginning to unfold.

Note to Self

O.K. Whenever planning a move to a new Life Style (like growing most of one's food) in a different Home and a new Geographic area, go slow. It is really easy to bite of more than one can chew.

We have lived here almost 3 years. We are finally begun to relax a bit. We don't have to do it all it once.

We talk about being Kinder to the Earth and All Living Beings. That needs to extend to us too.

Temperatures Warm

January 13:

We had our 1st day over freezing in a while. I love it when the Sun's Light is a Yellow-Gold and Warm, and the Snow casts that soft Blue Reflection. In the background, one can hear a steady and persistent "drip-drip-drip".

Sunday, January 10, 2010


We visited Mother today. She was contemplating a Gift for someone Special. Her Face lit up and she said: "How about a box of Apples and Oranges?"

She went on to say: "Uncle Harl and Aunt Clara used to bring a box of Apples and Oranges whenever they would come in the Wnter. Back in those times, they were hard to come by. Back then, that was really special."

Mother's Uncle Harl and Aunt Clara lived in Neodesha, Kansas, the early part of the 20th Century. Uncle Harl was an Osteopathic Physician there. Aunt Clara was my Grandfather Fred Albert Brenz's Sister. They would return to Kirksville, where Clara's Mother Matilda Brenz, her Sister Della, and her brother Fred lived.

Uncle Harl ("Harley Samuel Wiles") was also from the area. He had graduated from the American School of Osteopathy and routinely returned for reunions and trainings. I believe Uncle Harl passed in 1939. His obituary says that he had not been well for over 3 years before. That gives me a bit of a frame on "dates". Mother always said that Uncle Harl was her favorite Uncle. He surely must have been a Jolly Soul. Mother was 17 in 1939.

I have been mulling over such a simple but meaningful Gift. It seems like those simple things "light people up". These days, we go through material things so quickly, they are less likely to warm the Spirit. How do we return to "simple"? That's our plan right here on the Farm.

Weather Data

WeatherUnderground gives me the following data from the Last 4 Days. That Wood Stove sure feels good.

January 10: Temperature: Maximum:+19; Minimum: -15; Wind: Average: 7mph; Maximum Wind: 12mph; Maximum Gusts: 25mph

January 9: Temperature: Maximum:+12; Minimum: -14; Wind: Average: 5mph; Maximum Wind: 9mph; Maximum Gusts: 12mph

January 8: Temperature: Maximum:+10; Minimum: -3; Wind: Average: 10mph; Maximum Wind: 18mph; Maximum Gusts: 24mph

January 7: Temperature: Maximum:+15; Minimum: +2; Wind: Average: 17mph; Maximum Wind: 24mph; Maximum Gusts: 35mph
Notes: Deleta: Is this consistent with what you have read? Richard thinks it is off. I don't have amounts of snow. Photo: Bird Wings on Snow, or are they Angel Wings?

In His Grip

January 7:

Winter had us firmly in His Grip. We had Snow, 17 mph Winds, with maximum of 24 mph and Wind Gusts to 35 mph. We watched our new Chimney for the Wood Stove closely and express our gratitude for the Loving and Skillful Hands which crafted it.

The minimum Temperature was 2 degrees with a maximum of 15. Averages for that date would have been 17 and 32 respectively.

For the next 3 days, the temperatures will be bitter cold. We have a Wind Chill Warning in effect until Noon on Saturday.We are left with many things to ponder. It is true that the conditions do not compare to our 32 years of experiences in North Dakota. We lived in town then and now we live in the Country.

Over time, we were prepared in the North Country, as much as we could be. We didn't take chances. Winter commanded a kind of respect that was due. Humans knew they were small in the scheme of things.

Many Folks around here are not exactly prepared for such challenges. We just hope and pray that Folks are Warm and Safe in these parts. We are grateful for all that we have. Nature provides. We just need to stay inbetween the Lines She has created for Living.

Chicken House News: Cold Weather Accommodations

So what special accommodations have we Humans provided during these bitterly Freezing Cold Times? Richard quickly notes that he has been forcing himself not to sing to them because they can't get away. Just kidding. Melanie thought they would probably like some singing.

So what is going on? The Chickens are bored since they have been having to stay inside. They are used to being busy with a wide range of places to explore. They are used to having plenty of space between themselves and other Chickens. The fact that they are now in close quarters and the fact that 3 are Roosters is a set up for some Tensions.

During the Day, the Chickens sit on the Ladders or in the Nest Boxes. Those Ladders are from my Dad and from Wag's House. Wag and Mrs. Wagner lived across the Street from us when we were growing up. They would have been of the age of my Grandparents, 3 of which were already gone by the time I arrived on the Scene. The Ladders are wooden, worn and wobbly by Today's Standards. But those Ladders are perfect for the Chickens for hanging out during the Daytime or Roosting in the Chicken House at Night. Richard built the Nest Boxes to encourage the Hennies to lay Eggs right there in their House.

Melanie has been giving them Scratch Whole Grains and scattering them throughout the House so they have something to scratch for. Melanie brings them Cane Seeds which are Brownie's favorite. Melanie sprouted some Mung Beans from the old Seeds the Humans were not going to eat.
She has also given them Venison Scraps left over from Canning. Those Scraps include some Meat, plus Fascia which is the connective tissue that is difficult to get off the Meat. Those Presentations of Meat lead to mass chaos in the Chicken House. Sorry, no pictures. The Photographer was having a Nap.

We make sure they have Kitchen Scraps. They have been getting Dairy that is Sour. Whatever Milk that we have at the end of the week, we let settle into Curds and Whey. They love it.

Richard and Melanie try to make sure they have high Carbohydrates. That gives them energy to burn. It's kind of like "stoking the Fire", which is a great idea in the face of this Cold.

Melanie and Richard leave the light on at night to prevent their Water from Freezing. Melanie thinks the Chickens would prefer it off. Because the Light is on, they can see each other and it likely leads to more activity during the Rest Time. Leaving it off would give them a break from activity, including Amorous Roosters. The Roosters wait until the Hennies get down off the Ladder for Food or Drink. You get the Picture.

Their Close Quarters during the Day means that they have been picking on each other. Melanie has been doctoring up some Combs. She puts Polysporin on them, but she is looking for a more natural remedy.

Because of the Cold, 1 of the New Roosters and Isabella have had Frostbite on their Beautiful Combs. Combs kind of turn black. We Humans imagine that it hurts. Frostbite on a Rooster's Comb can affect Fertility.

The extended Light at Night means they are laying more eggs. A dozen a day is not uncommon for 41 Chickens, 38 are Hennies. Even the 2 Little Hennies from Lacey's Littles are laying now.

Luna is molting. That doesn't make much sense to the Humans. But it is what it is.

Richard opened the Gate today and several Chickens actually went out. Sophia actually tried to Dust Bathe. Brrrr....

Chicken House News: Feet

This little Entry is probably aptly named because the Chickens have not been getting out of their House much. That's because we have had some bitterly Cold Weather with Snow lately. Melanie thinks the Chickens could probably take the Cold, but they seem reluctant to get Snow on their Feet.

I have thought about making them little Booties. They would be so cute. Melanie agrees but says they would be a bit impractical, however. She assures me that she would not want to stifle my Creativity. But practically speaking, we would need storage for 41 pairs of Boots right by the Door. Even now, that brings up Memories of Kindergarten for me. All those Pairs of Boots could be quite a mix up considering their Feet are of variable size.

However, Nature has already provided beautiful protection for their Feet. Humans are not to worry as long as the Temperature is within a given range.

Our Resident Ornithologist says that in the Bird World, Bird Arteries and Veins are very close to each other going into the Feet. As a result, Birds have the capacity to regulate Blood Flow when Temperatures Plummet. This helps the Bird conserve Energy, which is very important during these high demand times. Plus, there are no muscles in the Feet, only tendons and ligaments which do not freeze in the same way as Muscle. Amazingly, Birds actually have counter current circulation which allows enough Blood to go to the Feet without Freezing.

So what Temperature are their Feet during these Very Cold Times? Richard says the Temperature of their Feet would be near Freezing.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Recipe: Oatmeal Cake (Glinda's Version with Lower Sugar)

1 Cup Regular Oats
1 Stick Butter
1 1/4 C. Boiling Water
3 Tablespoons Honey
1/3 c. Sorghum Molasses
2 Eggs, beaten
1 1/3 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Soda
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
Pinch Nutmeg (This could well be the "secret" ingredient.)

(1) Simmer Oats, Butter, and Water until Oats begin to "cook", water is "thick" and creamy colored. Let stand for 20 minutes to continue to soften and to cool to "warm".
(2) Run dry ingredients through sieve to evenly disperse (Flour, Salt, Soda, Cinnamon, Nutmeg).
(3) Stir together all ingredients (Oat Mixture, Liquid and Dry Ingredients) until evenly distributed. Do not over-beat.
(4) Pour batter into greased 9x13 Inch pan, spreading evenly.
(5) Bake at 325 Degrees until done (about 30 minutes). Cake in middle should spring back from a light touch, or, toothpick should come out clean.

6 Tablespoons Soft Butter
1/4 C. Kefir (or thin Cream)
3 Tablespoons Honey
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Cup Coconut
1/3 Cup Chopped Pecans

(6) Stir together topping.
(7) Spread evenly on top of Cake when it comes out of the Oven.
(8) Broil at Low Setting until Topping Bubbles and is a light Caramel Brown.
(9) Serve warm or cool. Serve plain or with small amount of Ice Cream or Cream.
Note: We use chemical free ingredients and local if available.

Sugar and Sweetener Consumption in the U.S.

1967: 114 Pounds per Capita
2003: 142 Pounds per Capita
Source: U.S. News and World Reports, March 20, 2005.

When and Why?

our Love Affair
with White Sugar
and High Fructose Corn Syrup
in the U.S.
Is it a Love Affair
or rather an Addiction?
Is it a substitute
for Natural Flavors
and Life Styles
which have gone
Natural Sugars
were commonplace
Maple Sugar,
Sorghum Molasses,
Local Fruits
at the Peak
of Season.
People surely
got by with less
when little
or nothing else
was to be found.
Glinda Crawford, 2010


As I ponder this Bitter Cold and the Recent Winter Storm on our Little Farm, I wonder how the Old Ones forecasted Weather. Their Lives depended on it. They didn't have WeatherUnderground and some fancy schmancy Weather Person dancing in front of a Map on the Evening News. They had to do it themselves.

I am convinced that to be successful, they had to be quite sophisticated about it. Jason Schaefer, 1 of my former students, said that his Grandpa knows how to forecast weather.

What did they know that we now know so little about? I wonder about those Barometers which were common fair in Homes in an earlier day. Were they part of the mix too?

Years ago, I remember sitting out back with Richard's Mother. I was a young adult with Papers of 1 who was educated. We had been through a particularly dry spell that kept all the locals buzzing. I knew it had been dry but I wasn't quite as energized by such discussions.

On that occasion, I noted some dark clouds coming in from the West. I said: "Look! I think we may be getting some Rain." To which, that Wise Woman responded: "Pshaw. That's just Wind." I remember she got up and began to "batton down the hatches", which is shorthand for making sure that which will blow away is anchored down. Some moments later, the Wind blew through with a vigor that stunned me.

And I was left with a question which I have carried with me all my Life: "How did she know that?"


In the Cooking
of Traditional Family Foods
is imbedded
Family Stories.
It is
as if the Old Ones
help us stir them up.
When we cook them,
the Family Stories unfold.
Those Foods are
like a Weaving
telling us
who held us,
who holds us,
who we are.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Recipe: Oatmeal Cake (Aunt Lu's Version)

1 Cup Quick Oats
Stick Oleo
1 1/4 Cup Boiling Water
1 Cup White Sugar
1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 1/3 Cup Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Soda
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

(1) Stir together Oats, Oleo, Boiling Water. Let set for 20 minutes.
(2) Add all remaining ingredients.
(3) Pour into 9 by 13 Inch Pan. Bake until done, or Cake springs back to the touch in the middle.


6 Tablespoons Soft Butter
1/4 Cup Evaporated Milk or Thin Cream
1/2 C. Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Cup Coconut

(4) Mix together ingredients for Topping.
(5) Spread evenly across top of Cake when it comes out of the Oven.
(6) Broil until topping bubbles.
(7) Serve. Watch it disappear.
Note: I loved this Cake. Aunt Lu would often have warm Cake, Cookies, Bars waiting for my Little Brother and me when we would come home from school. She always made my Family Supper (which included some kind of sweet), although she went home for her own. She had recorded this Recipe in the little Book that she carried back and forth in her purse to our House where she cared for us. She never did bother with the details so some obvious ones are missing. The amount of Coconut isn't stated. She doesn't disclose much about how it should be put together. She doesn't state how long to bake the Cake. She just knew. I remembered the Cake as being "Simple", a remnant of the "Depression Era", and ever so good. Even today after all those years, it is like a long yearned for "hug from Aunt Lu" across time that just disappears.

Family Stories Flow

These days, I am really drawn to Cooking. And Eating. During the Harvest Season, we had little time for the extension of Culinary Crafts beyond Freezing, Canning, Drying, Storing.

But I am now a little more rested. Plus, I am not so stretched in what seemed like a 1000 directions. With that Bitter Cold out there, I just want to "stoke that Fire".

I am remembering Recipes that I had not thought of for some time. They just come out of the Blue. They tickle and tease me. They create a yearning in me. Imbedded throughout are memories of Old Ones who have gone before, of earlier Stages of my Life, and of Family Stories.

And once again, I go to the Cookbooks and the voluminous assortment of Recipes collected over the years. Those Recipes sit in a special box which resembles an overstuffed Pillow. They are in the Handwriting of the Old Ones and of Me at far younger stages than I am now. Some even have samples which have long since faded.

Once again, I do my dance in the Kitchen. This time, I am wearing my new Apron that Deleta made for me at Christmas. Over time, lovely aromas dance out of the Kitchen too. Those Aromas seem to come along with a hand which gently gestures that index finger: "Come, come. Do come." And with them, the Family Stories flow.

Length of Day

Amazingly, we are each noting that the Length of Day seems noticeably longer. WeatherUnderground tells me that that the Length of Day for January 8 is 9 Hours and 28 Minutes. The Length of Visible Light is 10 Hours and 29 Minutes. The Length of Day will be 1 Minute and 10 Seconds longer tomorrow.

The Cold has deepened, yet the Sun seems to be making strides of Return. At 1 level, it is difficult to hold both of those concepts. They seem inconsistent. At another level, I feel relief. I wonder about those early Peoples as they noted that the Great Wheel of Life continues to turn.

My Apologies

I apologize that I really am not a Photographer who specializes in Winter Shots. I don't get out much. Mostly, I am still in a rest mode so I am content to be inside. The Views afforded through Windows leave a constraining Grid of Screens.

When I take my Camera out, it freezes up quickly. Even it doesn't, my Hands do. So I shall leave a few things to the Imagination.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Winter is making
His Presence known.
In the midst
of His Grip,
I have
random thoughts
on Gratitudes
to start my Day:
New Wood Stove
and Chimney,
Fire safely held,
Rocks which hold
and release Heat,
Skilled Hands,
and Propane
and Electricity,
the Areas of the Earth
which gifted them to us,
Warmth of Family,
Teamwork of Family,
Full Pantry,
Gas Stove,
Cycles of Nature,
of Nature's Children
to ride Winter's Wave
in ways we know
and do not know,
Rest and Slumber
in Winter's Deep.
Glinda Crawford, 2010

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I ponder
the Human Species'
from Farm
to City.
It seems to me
that Migration
has been
a full fledged run
from Nature,
the Honoring
of the Real
to the Elevation
of the Human Constructed.
It seems to me
that Shift
has been an attempt
to escape
the Glare of
Birth, Life, and Death
in the Natural World.
It seems to me
that Shift has been
motivated by Humans
who do not
want to witness
the reality
of the Damage
they have created.
Now our
Trail of Damage
a Tight Web
around and in
the Fortresses
we have created.
shall we
to now?
Glinda Crawford, 2010